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Bible Commentaries

Gray's Concise Bible Commentary

1 Peter 1

Verses 1-12


The opening of this epistle reminds us of Paul in its salutation, 1 Peter 1:1-2 . Here we have the author’s name Peter, his official designation an apostle of Jesus Christ, and a characterization and location of the people addressed “strangers scattered throughout” the provinces of Asia Minor named. This last phrase is rendered in the Revised Version, “sojourners of the dispersion,” which indicates that they were chiefly Jewish Christians not at home in their own land. But nevertheless, they were at home with God, for they are spoken of as “elect,” or chosen ones, and it is interesting to note the operation of the Three Persons of the Godhead in their election the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The first, called them, the second redeemed them, the third satisfied or set them apart for God forever.

The salutation is followed, as also in Paul’s epistles, by the thanksgiving (1 Peter 1:3-12 ), which contains as well a statement of the theme of the epistle which is, The Living Hope. Seven things are told us of the Living Hope:

1. Its source, “the abundant mercy of God”; 2. Its ground, the new birth, “begotten again”; 3. Its means, “the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” involving His death, of course; 4. Its nature, “an inheritance,” etc.; 5. Its security, “reserved” for us, “who are kept” for it; 6. Its consummation “in the last time,” which as is shown later, means not the end of the world, but of the present age which synchronizes with the Second Coming of Christ; 7. Its effect, joy, “wherein ye greatly rejoice.” This rejoicing is experienced even in the midst of trial (1 Peter 1:6 ), because that trial will redound to our “praise, and honor and glory” at Christ’s Second Coming.

“The end of your faith” (1 Peter 1:9 ), means that at which faith aims or in which it results, which the apostle says the believer is now “receiving,” now bearing

off as a prize in the present earnest of the Spirit he enjoys, in the present peace of reconciliation, in his growing sanctification and eager anticipation of eternal joy.

The closing part of this section (1 Peter 1:9-12 ) is a strong declaration of the supernatural character of the Holy Scriptures. The “salvation” just referred to had been prophesied of in the Old Testament, concerning which its writers had sought and searched diligently. That for which they searched was the time of the sufferings and subsequent glory of Christ. The Holy Spirit had led them to write of that time, and now the same Spirit revealed into them the meaning of what they had written. He instructed them that they had written not for their own age but this age, when that which they had written was being preached in the demonstration of the same Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:12 ). We thus see that the Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures, reveals their meaning, and accompanies their preaching and teaching, or else that preaching or teaching is in vain.


1. Give the details of the salutation.

2. Who are meant by strangers here?

3. What is the theme of the epistle?

4. Name the seven things spoken of it.

5. Explain 1 Peter 1:9 .

6. What threefold relation does the Holy Spirit bear to the Holy Scriptures?

Verses 12-25


“Wherefore” at the beginning of this lesson shows that as the result of what has gone before something is expected. They who have been begotten again to this living hope have obligations arising from it.

The first is Hope (1 Peter 1:13-16 ).

The difference between “hope” in 1 Peter 1:13 and that in 1 Peter 1:3 is, that there it represented the believer’s standing or position before God in Christ, and here his experience and exhibition of it. Having been begotten again unto a living Hope, he is now to hope for it with all sobriety and concentration of mind. As he does so hope it will affect his character and conduct (1 Peter 1:14 ), for no longer will his daily life be run in the mould of his former desires in sin, but will be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16 ).

The second is Fear (1 Peter 1:17-21 )

Godly fear, of course, not the fear of a criminal before a judge, but that of an obedient child in the presence of a loving father. Two motives are given for it, one, the thought of judgment (1 Peter 1:17 ); the other, the cost of our redemption (1 Peter 1:18-19 ). The judgment is not to determine the question of salvation, which is settled for believers as soon as they accept Christ, but to determine their fidelity as disciples and the place of reward awaiting them in glory.

The third is Love (1 Peter 1:22 to 1 Peter 2:3 ).

Believers have “purified their souls,” not in an absolute experimental sense, but in the judicial sense that they now have a right standing before God. This they did “in obeying the truth” of the Gospel, which they were enabled to obey “through the Spirit”; in other words, by the aid of the Holy Spirit. Being in this position they are able to “love one another,” and being able to do it imposes the obligation to do it (1 Peter 1:22 ). The thought is extended in the next verse which reveals that believers are “brethren” in that they have all been “born again” by the one “seed,” which is the incorruptible Word of God. The “love” they are to exercise toward one another is defined in the opening verses of chapter 3, and in order to obtain the strength to exercise it they are to draw on the Word of God. That which instrumentally brought them into life will sustain them in it continually (1 Peter 2:2-3 ).

The fourth is Praise (1 Peter 2:4-10 ).

The Lord Jesus Christ referred to in 1 Peter 1:3 , is “a Living Stone,” Whose life has been communicated to believers, making them “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5 ). They thus form a spiritual temple, and, abruptly changing the figure, they are the “priesthood” in the temple. As such they have spiritual sacrifices to offer (1 Peter 2:5 ), the chief of which is to “show forth the praises of Him Who” redeemed them (1 Peter 2:9-10 ).

These four obligations of The Living Hope are referred to as the “upward” ones in the sense that, with one exception, they are due to God directly. The exception is that of “Love” which is due to God indeed, but exercised indirectly through the brethren. The obligations following in the epistle are for the most part outward toward the world, and inward toward one another as fellow-believers, fellow-members of the family of God or of the Body of Christ.


1. What is the significance of “Wherefore”?

2. Name the four obligations in this lesson.

3. Why are they called upward?

4. What is the difference between “hope” in verse 5 and in verse 13?

5. What are the two motives for godly fear?

6. Expound in your own words 1 Peter 1:22 to 1 Peter 2:3 .

7. Do the same with 1 Peter 2:4-10 .

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Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on 1 Peter 1". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. 1897-1910.